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16 month-old bug continues to crash Flash

Matthew Dempsky has discovered a bug which will crash the Flash player on every supported platform. That might not seem like a huge deal, except that he discovered this bug in September of 2008 and has reported it to Adobe, which hasn't fixed it yet.

16 months later.

If you'd like to test it for yourself, make sure there's nothing important open in your browser window and head to http://flashcrash.dempsky.org/.

In Safari and Google Chrome, this crashes the plugin but not the browser. It took Firefox 3.6 down entirely.

Why would Matthew post such a page? Isn't that reckless? Well, he explains on that page:
"Regarding crashing, I can tell you that we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs, and if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today," Lynch wrote. "Addressing crash issues is a top priority in the engineering team, and currently there are open reports we are researching in Flash Player 10." (Source: PC Mag, "Adobe Defends Flash, Calls Apple Uncooperative")

He goes on to say:

This page exploits a bug that I reported to Adobe in September 2008, and has affected every release of Flash on every platform since then. Despite numerous email exchanges with the Flash product manager about the bug, the bug report being hidden from the public for "security" reasons, and [although] Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch's claims otherwise, it continues to be an issue.

...I'm not an Apple fan boy out to prove Steve Jobs right in Apple's decision not to support Flash on the iPhone / iPad. Instead, I'm just a software engineer who at one time had to deal with Adobe's sorry excuse for a development platform and made an earnest effort on several occasions at helping them improve it for everyone. (This issue is merely the tip of the iceberg of ridiculous bugs and random backwards and forwards incompatibilities known as Adobe's Flash Player plug-in.) After trying to work with them to fix this issue and experiencing nothing but frustration, I just don't give a damn anymore.

Adobe has been able to rest on its laurels with Flash, because it was a de facto standard. Now that the platform is being left behind by new mobile devices and computing metaphors, Adobe is making an appeal to the public that Flash isn't that bad.

Adobe's been able to do much the same with Photoshop and CS4. Even people who love the apps and use them every day have learned to live with the crashes and other problems. Adobe seemed not to be in too much of a rush to get Snow Leopard compatible versions out. Ditto for when Apple switched to Intel.

I'm amazed by people who continue to defend Flash, including those who believe that alternatives will have a chance if web developers weren't pushed to start using newer alternatives like H.264 and HTML 5. (No, I'm not saying H.264/HTML 5 is a drop-in replacement for Flash, and I'm not even going to mention SVG.)

If we all went with the "de facto standard" we'd be using Internet Explorer 6 on Windows. Actually, we'd probably be using Internet Explorer 4.

No doubt that Flash has done some great things. At one time, it was cutting edge stuff. Now it's a dull butter knife.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you about ClickToFlash which I've reviewed previously.

(Hat tip to Craig Hockenberry and Mike Damm for bringing this story to our attention.)

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